Google is aiming to keep its users healthy -- and away from Apple -- with a new app that takes a broader view of fitness tracking.
Google Fit, released Tuesday, will use the sensors in Android phones to track and organize people's walking, biking and running activity. Users can set goals and check their progress from within the app on their smartphone, as well as on the web, tablets, and Android Wear smartwatches.
Mobile fitness apps are a dime a dozen these days, but Google is trying to add value by letting Fit act as a hub for third-party apps like those from Strava, Withings and Runkeeper. Fit users can access data gathered by those apps within the Fit app, instead of having to switch between them. That functionality makes Google Fit the prime competitor to Apple's HealthKit, a software platform for iOS 8 that lets third-party apps share their data with Apple's Health app.
Google Fit is available for devices running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above.
Whether Google Fit catches on likely depends on the number of integrations it will support with other apps, and how well it presents the combined data.
It's unclear if other popular apps from device makers like Fitbit or Jawbone will be integrated with Fit, and Google didn't immediately comment.
Apple, meanwhile, had some problems last month with third-party app launches for HealthKit, due to a bug that has since been fixed.
In addition to it being an app, Google Fit is a software development kit. Its APIs aim to let developers access data from other sources to make their own apps more powerful. Fit, therefore, could be a win for Google by strengthening the broader ecosystem of health apps, and then weaving them into Fit.
Fit API partners include Basis, Adidas and Motorola.
Google is becoming increasingly active in health and biosciences. The company's working on contact lenses that measure blood glucose levels for people with diabetes, and has formed a subsidiary called Calico to combat aging-related diseases. Google acquired Lift Labs last month, which makes a mechanical spoon for people suffering from tremors.
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